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Atlanta Braves/2006/April

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April 3

Recap and Highlights

Opening Day. The Braves traveled to play the Los Angeles Dodgers. The starting pitchers were Tim Hudson (0-0) and Derek Lowe(0-0). Newcomer Nomar Garciaparra was scratched from the lineup with a strained rib muscle.

The top of the first inning was promising in a number of ways for Braves fans. Atlanta started off hot with leadoff hitter Marcus Giles singling. Edgar Renteria roped a potential extra base hit linedrive that was caught by 3B Bill Mueller. An error by Jeff Kent allowed Chipper Jones to reach and then Andruw Jones singled to bring in the first run of the year for Atlanta. Adam LaRoche followed suit with a three run homerun to put Atlanta up 4-0.

Hudson took the mound in the bottom of the first with a career record of 87-4 with 4 or more runs of support.

The game progressed quietly for the next few innings, outside of a run-scoring single by Jeff Kent. A hit that scored Atlanta product and new LA SS Rafael Furcal.

In the top of the 5th, Atlanta struck big again. Hudson led off the inning with a single and Marcus Giles sacrificed him over. Furcal's replacement, Edgar Renteria, single to put men on the corners, setting up Chipper Jones. Jones earned his first run batted-in by deftly poking an outside pitch into center field for a single. Last year's HR-champion, Andruw Jones hit a three-run homer into the left field bleachers, stretching the Atlanta lead to seven runs.

Los Angeles fired back in the bottom half of the inning consecutive singles from Furcal, Cruz, and Drew. A wild pitch followed by a two-run double ended Hudson's day. Lance Cormier relieved and let up a single to Mueller, scoring Kent.

Atlanta rebounded with a two-run double off of the glove of CF Jason Repko by Renteria in the top of the 6th.

In the meantime Mike Remlinger and Oscar Villarreal held the Dodgers scoreless for the sixth and seventh innings. Villarreal recorded four outs and only allowed one hit

The score remained 10-5 until the top of the 8th when Ryan Langerhans hit a solo shot to right field.

Again, the Dodgers responded to a Braves score. Blaine Boyer, questionable throughout the spring with a sore right shoulder, entered the game and allowed singles to Cruz and Drew. Andruw Jones made a rare error on a routine play to allow the runners to move up to 2nd and 3rd. After Olmedo Saenz mistakenly ran to first on ball three, he returned to the batter's box and hit a single up the middle to score the runners. Short on relievers, Bobby Cox had starter John Thomson enter the game. Thomson allowed Repko to rip a liner down the left field line for a run-scoring double, making the game 11-8.

The Braves entered the bottom of the ninth up 11-8 but the Dodgers did not go away without a fight. Furcal bunted an infield single past Chipper and Cruz followed with a double. The next two batters grounded out, each bringing home a run to make the game 11-10. Saenz hit a sharp grounder to Jones at third, which he snagged, spun, and threw high to LaRoche. LaRoche jumped and landed back on the bag a split second before Saenz reached the bag for the final out.

Although the team hung on to win, this was the sort of game that will have doubters of the Braves' bullpen saying, "I told you so."

Seeing Renteria get a couple hits and drive in some runs was a great sign. If he can bounce back to his St. Louis days after last year's dreadful showing in Boston, then Furcal will not be missed.

Hudson's location appeared to be slightly off as he delivered below the strike zone most of the time. Overall he threw 83 pitches for 46 strikes. His pitch count remained high for this reason.

Starting Lineups and Box Score

Atlanta Braves Los Angeles Dodgers
Marcus Giles (2B) Rafael Furcal (SS)
Edgar Renteria (SS) Jose Cruz Jr. (LF)
Chipper Jones (3B) J.D. Drew (RF)
Andruw Jones (CF) Jeff Kent (2B)
Adam LaRoche (1B) Olmedo Saenz (1B)
Jeff Francoeur (RF) Bill Mueller (3B)
Brian McCann (C) Sandy Alomar Jr. (C)
Ryan Langerhans (LF) Jason Repko (CF)
Tim Hudson (SP) Derek Lowe (SP)
Click here for the full boxscore

Record

1-0 1st place(tie)

April 4

Recap and Highlights

Before the game, L.A. placed first baseman Nomar Garciaparra on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained muscle on his right side. They recalled James Loney.

John Smoltz (0-0) and Brad Penny (0-0) started the second game of the season-opening series in Los Angeles.

Braves came in looking for their first 2-0 start since 1996.

The first half of the first inning was calm as Penny struck out the side with Chipper Jones and Edgar Renteria singling in between. However, the bottom half was the exact opposite as L.A. continued their hot-hitting from the night before. After Rafael Furcal grounded out to open the inning, Jose Cruz Jr. walked to setup a two-run homer into the right-center seats by J.D. Drew. Then Jeff Kent and James Loney, who had never played higher than AA ball, reached on a single and a walk, respectively. Bill Mueller, who rejected a better offer from Pittsburgh this offseason to go to the Dodgers, singled in a run and Jason Repko followed up with an RBI single of his own. The inning ended with the Dodgers off to an early 4-0 lead, which they never surrendered throughout the rest of the game.

Promising young Atlanta catcher Brian McCann tried his best to start a rally in the second inning with a homerun of his own but the rest of the team did not respond.

There was a 25 minute rain delay in the bottom of the second.

In the bottom of the third, Mueller scored Drew on a sac fly, which left the game at 5-1 until the eighth inning.

Drew started off last season hitless in his first 25 at-bats. Then, he broke his left wrist by getting hit by a pitch on July 3, ending his year.

After the second inning, Penny held the Braves hitless, retiring all but one of the last eleven batters he faced. Penny's effort led to Grady Little's first victory as the Dodgers' skipper.

The Braves attempted a comeback in the eighth off of reliever Jae Seo. Andruw Jones doubled in a run and Adam LaRoche followed him with a two-run homer, his second HR of the year. Brian Jordan struck out to squelch the rally.

Danys Baez came in for the "suspended" Eric Gagne to save the game. Gagne began to serve his two-game suspension from last year but was already unavailable with an ear infection.

After the game, Smoltz blamed the rainy weather on his first inning struggles.

"I rely on grip -- I just struggled today with that," he said. "I'm a real feel guy. If it doesn't feel good, I'm not going to go with a pitch very often." Talking about the weather he said, "It was brutal. I was tested to the max."

Smoltz reached 2,570 strikeouts for his career, 11 behind Hall of Famer Bob Feller for 23rd all-time.


Starting Lineups and Box Score

Atlanta Braves Los Angeles Dodgers
Marcus Giles (2B) Rafael Furcal (SS)
Edgar Renteria (SS) Jose Cruz Jr. (LF)
Chipper Jones (3B) J.D. Drew (RF)
Andruw Jones (CF) Jeff Kent (2B)
Adam LaRoche (1B) James Loney (1B)
Jeff Francoeur (RF) Bill Mueller (3B)
Brian McCann (C) Jason Repko (CF)
Ryan Langerhans (LF) Dioner Navarro (C)
John Smoltz (SP) Brad Penny (SP)
Click here for the full boxscore

April 5

Recap and Highlights

After splitting the first two games, Atlanta sent Horacio Ramirez to the mound against the Dodgers' Odalis Perez. Chipper Jones sat out the game with a sore stomach.

The weather was nice enough that the teams took batting practice for the first time in the series.

The Dodgers started off hot, scoring four in the bottom of the first. They had four hits but only one of them being for extra bases, a double. Ramirez struggled with location on the inside of the strike zone.

After Ramirez struggled to begin the game, John Thomson got active in the bullpen for Atlanta in the bottom of the second with no one out. The Dodgers struck again in the second with a sac fly by Jose Cruz Jr..

Fortunately for Atlanta, Perez began to lose control in the top of the third. Starting pitcher Ramirez led off singling up the middle. Marcus Giles followed with a single of his own, setting up an RBI double by Edgar Renteria. Matt Diaz hit a sac fly to score Giles and Andruw Jones singled home Renteria. To cap off the rally, youngster Wilson Betemit hit a sharp linedrive that exited into the left field seats in the blink of an eye.

In the bottom of the third, Sandy Alomar Jr. singled to the right field corner. However, he made the mistake of testing Jeff Francoeur's arm. Francoeur made a spinning throw from the right field wall to 2B to gun down Alomar. Last year, he had 13 outfield assists in only 67 games.

A curse/blessing hit Atlanta in the top of the fourth. Ramirez laid down a bunt to advance the runner to second, but his placement led to a base hit. Unfortunately, he pulled up lame about 2/3 of the way to first. He was later placed on the DL with a strained left hamstring. This opened up a spot in the rotation for Thomson, a better pitcher.

Cox had Giles attempt to bunt in a 5-5 game in the 4th inning with men on 1st and 2nd and no one out. This was a questionable move assuming the Braves shaky pen would probably be giving up quite a few more runs. Also, Giles' bat is too potent to take it out of his hands with a man in scoring position. Luckily, Giles ended up walking. Renteria followed up by driving in another runner with the 1,600th hit of his career. A. Jones walked to bring in a run and Francoeur hit a sac fly to give Atlanta an 8-5 lead.

In the 7th, Betemit hit a ball off of the top of the centerfield wall, barely missing a 2 HR game. Repko made a great throw to second, which the umpire called Betemit out. However, Furcal dropped the ball after making the tag and the call was changed to safe. Betemit was given a single, Repko an assist, and Furcal an error.

L.A. struck back in the bottom of the seventh. With one out and two men on, Mike Remlinger relieved John Thomson. An error by Renteria and a base hit by Bill Mueller brought in two runs. Oscar Villareal came in and immediately allowed a base hit to Alomar Jr., tying the game at 8.

Ryan Langerhans came into the game and hit a ground rule double to right that bounced into the stands, scoring Giles.

Chris Reitsma retired all five of the batters he faced to close out the game 9-8. It was his second save of the season.

The Dodgers' Jeff Kent and Olmedo Saenz left with injuries during the game. Kent had a bruised left triceps. Saenz had a stiff back.

Series Recap

Atlanta 2 Dodgers 1

In the series, all games were won by one run. Atlanta had 34 hits and scored 24 runs. Los Angeles had 39 hits and scored 23 runs.

Starting Lineups and Box Score

Atlanta Braves Los Angeles Dodgers
Marcus Giles (2B) Rafael Furcal (SS)
Edgar Renteria (SS) Jose Cruz Jr. (LF)
Matt Diaz (LF) J.D. Drew (RF)
Andruw Jones (CF) Jeff Kent (2B)
Jeff Francoeur (RF) Olmedo Saenz (1B)
Wilson Betemit (3B) Bill Mueller (3B)
Adam LaRoche (1B) Sandy Alomar Jr. (C)
Todd Pratt (C) Jason Repko (CF)
Horacio Ramirez (SP) Odalis Perez (SP)
Click here for the full boxscore


April 6

Recap and Highlights

The series in San Francisco started with youngster Noah Lowry (0-0) facing off with Atlanta's Jorge Sosa (0-0).

In the second inning, Lowry grabbed his side after throwing a pitch. He had to leave the game with a strained back, putting him on the DL. Jeff Fassero replaced the injured pitcher.

In the top of the third, catcher Brian McCann and Sosa, battery mates, led off the inning with back-to-back homeruns.

In the bottom of the third, the wheels fell of for Sosa after getting Fassero to bunt into a groundout leading off the inning. A walk to Randy Winn was followed by a single for Omar Vizquel. Then, Ray Durham singled both of the runners in. A wild pitch moved Durham to second, opening up first base for Barry Bonds to be intentionally walked. A Moises Alou single brought home Durham. After Lance Niekro singled to load the bases, the great baseball families of the Bonds', Alou's, and Niekro's were represented on base. Pedro Feliz doubled to deep center to clear the bases and give S.F. a 6-2 lead. Lance Cormier relieved Sosa and got the final two outs.

Chipper Jones singled in Edgar Renteria in the top of the sixth to pull Atlanta within 3 runs.

Brian Jordan hit a last effort homerun in the ninth but Atlanta fell 6-4.

Bonds, who was given a standing ovation, was intentionally walked twice in the game. He was also struck out by Ken Ray, who was called up that day from AAA.

Starting Lineups and Box Score

Atlanta Braves San Francisco Giants
Marcus Giles (2B) Randy Winn (CF)
Edgar Renteria (SS) Omar Vizquel (SS)
Chipper Jones (3B) Ray Durham (2B)
Andruw Jones (CF) Barry Bonds (LF)
Jeff Francoeur (RF) Moises Alou (RF)
Matt Diaz (LF) Lance Niekro (1B)
Brian Jordan (1B) Pedro Feliz (3B)
Brian McCann (C) Mike Matheny (C)
Jorge Sosa (SP) Noah Lowry (SP)
Click here for the full boxscore

April 7

Recap and Highlights

In the second game of the series, Atlanta pitcher Kyle Davies and San Francisco pitcher Matt Cain started. The game began 1 hour and 46 minutes late because of rain.

Barry Bonds did not play as a precaution due to soggy conditions following hours of rain in the Bay Area.

The Giants started hot by driving in three runs in the bottom of the first. Steve Finley tripled to deep right, scoring Randy Winn. Mark Sweeney singled him in, and two batters later, Lance Niekro brought Sweeney home.

Ryan Langerhans started off a great day by driving home a run in the top of the following inning.

Atlanta later continued there come from behind with a solo shot by hot-hitting SS Edgar Renteria in the third inning.

San Francisco went down in order in the third and fourth innings.

After Davies struck out to begin the fifth, the Atlanta bats started to manufacture runs again. Marcus Giles doubled to right field and Renteria hit a deep fly ball to move the runner over. Chipper Jones hit a single up the middle to score Giles easily. Jones was driven home by Adam LaRoche's single.

In the bottom of the sixth, Joey Devine allowed the Giants to rally from their 4-3 deficit. He walked the first batter he faced, Lance Niekro. Then, Pedro Feliz crushed a ball to the left-center gap, bringing home the runner. A wild pitch moved Feliz over to third base but it did not matter because Moises Alou sent a drive over the left field fence to plate two runs. Mike Remlinger entered the game and retired the final two batters of the inning. Atlanta trailed 6-4.

Then, San Francisco sent Tyler Walker into the game and it quickly slipped out of the Giants' grasp. Giles, Renteria, and Chipper led off the inning with walks to load the bases for Andruw Jones. During his at bat, Bobby Cox was ejected from the game. Jones singled in two runners, forcing the Giants to replace Walker with Jack Taschner. His control was just as bad, walking LaRoche, hitting Jeff Francoeur with a pitch, and walking McCann, all of which scored two runners. In came Jeremy Accardo to give it a try. Immediately, Langerhans singled in the two lead runners, expanding the lead to 10-6. Betemit pinch hit and drove in a run on a defensive miscue and Renteria had an RBI groundout. After the top of the 7th, Atlanta held a 12-6 lead.

Later, Langerhans hit a two run homer to pad the lead but San Francisco's bats remained silenced. Atlanta won 14-6.

Starting Lineups and Boxscore

Atlanta Braves San Francisco Giants
Marcus Giles (2B) Randy Winn (RF)
Edgar Renteria (SS) Omar Vizquel (SS)
Chipper Jones (3B) Steve Finley (CF)
Andruw Jones (CF) Mark Sweeney (LF)
Adam LaRoche (1B) Ray Durham (2B)
Jeff Francoeur (RF) Lance Niekro (1B)
Brian McCann (C) Pedro Feliz (3B)
Ryan Langerhans (LF) Mike Matheny (C)
Kyle Davies (SP) Matt Cain (SP)
Click here for the full boxscore

April 8

Recap and Highlights

After lasting only 4 innings in his opening start, Tim Hudson (0-0) took the mound in San Francisco to face Jamey Wright (0-0).

Bonds (41), Finley (41) and Alou (39) combined to create the oldest starting outfield ever.

Atlanta was set down in order to start the game, sending Hudson to the mound trying to do the same. Unfortunately, things did not go so well. He walked the first batter, Omar Vizquel. Then, Moises Alou drove a ball out of the park to left field just two batters later, giving the Giants an early 2-0 lead.

After Atlanta failed to reach base in the second, Hudson's afternoon took a turn for the worse. The leadoff hitter reached base again, this time by way of a Chipper Jones fielding blunder. Todd Greene doubled down the left field line and then an infield single by Jose Vizcaino loaded the bases. Vizquel crushed a ball to deep right center, clearing the bases and leaving him standing on second base. Steve Finley followed with another hit to deep right center, resulting in a triple. Hudson then walked Alou and Bonds to load the bases. Mark Sweeney hit a grounder between 1B and 2B. With a hobbled Bonds running, a double play would have ended the inning. Unfortunately, the grounder caused Giles to travel to far to his left that he had to decide between getting an out at first or second. He went with the sure out at first, resulting in one more run scoring. San Francisco had stretched their lead to seven by the end of the second inning.

In the third, Atlanta put Ryan Langerhans on base but a double play assured the Giants saw the minimum number of batters through three innings.

An RBI single by Vizquel in the third added one more run to the lead.

In the top of the next inning, Marcus Giles walked, but Edgar Renteria lined out to Bonds and Chipper Jones hit into a double play.

In the fifth, thanks to a walk by Adam LaRoche and a single by Jeff Francoeur Atlanta finally sent more than the minimum to the plate. Although, Langerhans grounded into a double play.

After Atlanta pitching silenced the Giants' bats for a couple innings, their own bats came alive. Todd Pratt walked, Matt Diaz, who swings with his entire body, singled, and Giles walked to start the top of the sixth. Renteria, who had hit safely in every game this year, singled in a run to put Atlanta on the board. Chipper grounded out to the firstbaseman to drive in another.

After Atlanta shrunk the lead to six, the game remained scoreless until the eighth. The Braves struck again. C. Jones doubled to the wall in center, plating Renteria and Diaz.

At 8-4, Bobby Cox called Joey Devine into the game. His control was a major issue, as Atlanta lost all hope for mounting a comeback. At first, Devine looked good, striking out the first batter he faced, Todd Greene. Then, he walked Vizcaino and threw a wild pitch to move him up a base. Lance Niekro popped up to the catcher, Pratt, for the second out of the inning. Vizquel drove in another run with a single and Finley and Alou loaded the bases with singles of their own. Devine's second wild pitch brought in a run and opened up a base for Bonds; although, Cox decided to let Devine pitch to Bonds. Devine looked unwilling to challenge Bonds and walked him anyways. The next two batters, Randy Winn and Pedro Feliz, walked as well, each bringing in a run. Finally Cox brought in another reliever, Kenny Ray to record the final out of the inning.

Atlanta headed into the ninth down 12-4. Jeremy Accardo was called on to close out the blowout, but he struggled. After two walks and a single, the so-far-this-year clutch hitter Renteria, placed a ball in centerfield, resulting in a two-run single. Jack Taschner came in to end the game. His first pitch was wild but he eventually struck out Chipper Jones ending Atlanta's semi-rally.

Starting Lineups and Boxscore

Atlanta Braves San Francisco Giants
Marcus Giles (2B) Omar Vizquel (SS)
Edgar Renteria (SS) Steve Finley (CF)
Chipper Jones (3B) Moises Alou (RF)
Andruw Jones (CF) Barry Bonds (LF)
Adam LaRoche (1B) Mark Sweeney (1B)
Jeff Francoeur (RF) Pedro Feliz (3B)
Ryan Langerhans (LF) Todd Greene (C)
Todd Pratt (C) Jose Vizcaino (2B)
Tim Hudson (SP) Jamey Wright (SP)
Click here for the full boxscore

April 9

Recap and Highlights

Trying to even the series, Atlanta's ace John Smoltz (0-1) took the mound against Giants' ace, Jason Schmidt (0-1). Neither starter would come away with a decision, or looking like an ace.

Both sides were set down in order in the first inning.

Andruw Jones led off the second with a single to left field. Then, he moved up to second on a wild pitch, which was a common theme in the series. Next batter, Adam LaRoche, doubled in the first run of the game.

In the bottom half, Smoltz ran into some control problems. He walked the first two batters, Barry Bonds and Moises Alou. Then, Lance Niekro doubled in Bonds. After a wild pitch, Niekro moved to third and Alou came home. Pedro Feliz exchanged an out on a sac fly for the third run. Schmidt's double followed by Randy Winn's double brought the score to 4-1.

Neither team scored again until the sixth, with Schmidt striking out the side in the fourth. In the sixth, Andruw Jones brought home both Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones, who singled and walked, respectively.

Tied at four, Renteria lined a double to deep right center, scoring Marcus Giles.

Smoltz and Schmidt both pitched through the seventh, not allowing another run.

In the bottom of the ninth, up 5-4, Atlanta's closer Chris Reitsma looked to finish the game. The first batter of the inning, Niekro, drove Reitsma's pitch over the left field fence, tying the game at five. Feliz singled and was sacrificed to second by Mike Matheny. Steve Finley pinch hit for Tim Worrell and was intentionally walked to set up a double play. Unfortunately for Atlanta, Winn blooped the ball into right. Jeff Francoeur's throw was well off the mark, ending the game 6-5.

Starting Lineups and Boxscore

Atlanta Braves San Francisco Giants
Marcus Giles (2B) Randy Winn (CF)
Edgar Renteria (SS) Omar Vizquel (SS)
Chipper Jones (3B) Ray Durham (2B)
Andruw Jones (CF) Barry Bonds (LF)
Adam LaRoche (1B) Moises Alou (RF)
Jeff Francoeur (RF) Lance Niekro (1B)
Brian McCann (C) Pedro Feliz (3B)
Ryan Langerhans (LF) Mike Matheny (C)
John Smoltz (SP) Jason Schmidt (SP)
Click here for the full boxscore

April 10

April 11

April 13

April 14

April 15

April 16

Recap and Highlights

John Thomson (0-0) and Woody Williams (1-0) of the Padres took the mound in the final game of the series.

Atlanta helped Thomson out defensively in the top of the first. Andruw Jones ranged far to his right and made a diving catch, jamming his wrist in the ground. He would be okay. Then, Marcus Giles snagged a liner by his brother Brian to steal a basehit.

Outside of a hit by pitch to the Padres' leadoff hitter, they were set down in order in the second inning. A Thomson curveball hit Rob Bowen in the foot.

The first pitch of second inning was hit for a homerun to left center by Andruw Jones. After a strikeout of Adam LaRoche, Dave Roberts made a sliding basket catch in center to get Jeff Francoeur out. Then, Williams found himself in a jam. Wilson Betemit singled and Todd Pratt was walked on a full count. This brought the pitcher to the plate with two men on. Thomson, a strong hitter for a pitcher, battled with Williams, fouling off three consecutive pitches, before roping a hanging curveball over the third baseman's head for an RBI double. Pete Orr grounded out with two men in scoring position to end the threat.

Joshua Barfield started off the third with a single to right. Williams sacrificed the runner to second and Roberts grounded out to move Barfield to third. Termel Sledge popped the ball into foul territory by third base. Orr was unsure of where the wall was and he allowed the ball to fall to the height of his knees before he made a basket catch.

First pitch of the bottom of the third was driven by Marcus Giles to leftcenter and bounced to the wall for a double. Giles was 3 for his last 29 at bats. After Langerhans walked, Jones made a rare popup for a fielder's choice. Khalil Greene backed up to shallow left to catch the ball, as LF Sledge ran into Greene. The ball was popped out of Greene's hand. Dave Roberts picked up the ball and threw the lead runner out at third. No one was injured on the play. Francoeur followed the freak play with a grounder over the second base bag for an RBI single. Atlanta led at this point, 3-0.

After San Diego failed to reach base in the top half of the fourth, Atlanta jumped on another first pitch. Pratt drove William's first offering off of the centerfield wall for a long single. Thomson, then, failed to sacrifice the runner over a base. He ran into the bunted ball just after exiting the batter's box and was called out. Pratt had to return to first but stole second in the next at bat. Marcus Giles then walked but the other Giles made a nice running catch to catch Langerhans flyball along the right field line.

After the bottom of the fourth, no one reached base for either team until the seventh inning. Kenny Ray entered the game for Thomson, who allowed zero runs. Facing Giles, Ray hung the pitch in the middle of the plate, which was hit for a homerun to rightcenter. The next batter, Bowen, lined a ball down the right field line past a diving LaRoche. A fan leaned over the wall and interfered with the play, leading to a ground rule double. After this, Adrian Gonzalez crushed a liner off of the right field wall for an RBI. Bobby Cox had seen enough from Ray after allowing three consecutive hits and pulled him for Oscar Villarreal. Villarreal allowed a flyout to right, moving the runner to third. After a walk to Blum, Barfield flew out to left, scoring Gonzalez from third. This tied the game at 3 and took away the win from John Thomson. Pinch-hitter Mark Bellhorn struck out to end the top of the seventh inning.

Alan Embree entered the game to pitch for San Diego in the seventh and started off strong, getting Orr and Giles out. Then he walked the next two batters to prompt the Padres to bring in Scott Linebrink. Pinch-hitter Brian Jordan struck out to end the threat.

In the top of the eighth it was Atlanta's bad luck on defense that ruined the game for them. The first batter, Dave Roberts, hit a liner that Langerhans tried to catch on the fly. It bounced under his glove and rolled all the way to the wall. Roberts ended the play with a stand-up triple, putting the go-ahead run only 90 feet from home. With the infield playing in, pinch-hitter Eric Young hit a liner off of the glove of 3B Orr. It rolled away, allowing the runner to score and Young to reach 1B safely. Had the infield been at normal depth, the run would not have scored and the hitter would have been out. Instead, the Padres took a 4-3 lead.

Atlanta was unable to score another run in their last two oppportunities, as they fell by a final score of 4-3.

The following graph, from www.fangraphs.com, shows the change in Atlanta's WPA (win probability) as the game progressed. As you can see, Atlanta had the game won until the Brian Giles HR, when it all fell apart.

Padres vs. Braves 4.16.2006

April 17

April 18

April 19

April 21

April 22

Postponed due to rain

April 23

Recap and Highlights

On Sunday night, following a rainout, Atlanta's starter John Thomson faced off against Tony Armas Jr..

The Braves first two batters grounded out to first, but 2B Jose Vidro was unable to make an accurate throw on a grounder by Ryan Langerhans to record the third out. The play was ruled an infield single. Fortunately for the Nationals, Andruw Jones struck out swinging to end the inning.

In the bottom of the first, Alfonso Soriano drew a rare walk, but Vidro grounded into a routine double play to clear the bases. Number three hitter, Nick Johnson, hit a sharp grounder past Adam LaRoche at first base that rolled over the right field line for a double. With Johnson on second, Jose Guillen crushed a Thomson pitch that would have been a homerun in almost any other park. Instead, it landed at the base of the right-center wall for an RBI double. Rookie Ryan Zimmerman struck out swinging to end the Nationals' threat.

Armas set the Braves down in order on only eight pitches in the second inning.

In the top of the third, Nick Johnson made a tremendous play at first to steal what would have been Martin Prado's first career hit. Johnson took three steps and dove to his left to glove the sharp grounder, rolled over, stood up, and shoveled the ball to Armas, who was covering the bag. Atlanta failed to reach base.

Thomson outdid Armas, retiring the side in only seven pitches in the third.

In the bottom of the fourth, Thomson found himself in a jam. Zimmerman singled with one out and Ryan Church followed with a double. With runners on second and third, Atlanta called for the intentional walk of Royce Clayton. With the bases loaded, Brian Schneider grounded into a double play to keep the game 1-0 in favor of the Nationals.

Armas imitated Thomson by getting himself into a jam the next half inning. With one out in the top of the fifth, Armas hit Jeff Francouer in the arm, allowed a single to Brian McCann, and then walked Prado to load the bases for Thomson. Thomson struck out looking at a slider around the knees and Pete Orr hit a chopper to the pitcher to leave all three runners stranded.

Soriano singled and Vidro walked with one out to put two runners on for Johnson. Johnson struck out swinging, but a double steal moved runners up a base. Bobby Cox elected to intentionally walk Guillen to face Zimmerman with the bases loaded and two outs. Zimmerman was caught looking at a sinker in the strike zone to get Thomson out of another bases loaded jam.

In the sixth, Clayton attempted to steal first base. The pitch came in low, so the batter, Schneider, threw his bat at the ball. The bat rolled under a leaping John Thomson and almost made it the whole way to the second base bag. Catcher Brian McCann threw the ball high to 2B, but Atlanta SS Wilson Betemit made a tremendous tag while jumping over the runner to record the out.

Armas walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh inning. However, the next two batters recorded outs and the Braves' baserunner, LaRoche, was thrown out stealing.

Lance Cormier relieved Thomson in the bottom of the seventh and retired the Nats in order, thanks in part to a web gem by LaRoche. Vidro hit a sharp liner down the first base line but LaRoche lunged to his left and snagged the ball in midair, robbing the hitter of a potential extra-base hit.

After Prado failed to achieve his first major league hit earlier in the game, he tripled to the right center gap in the eighth inning. Matt Diaz pinch hit for Cormier and managed a popup to right field. Due to the strong arm of Guillen, Prado faked going home and quickly returned to third. After a walk to Pete Orr, SS Wilson Betemit hit a high-fastball over the centerfield fence to put Atlanta up 3-1.

Washington did not go in the bottom of the ninth without a fight. Damian Jackson singled with one out. Soriano followed by hitting a grounder, in which SS Tony Pena barely threw out the runner at 2B. Vidro launched a high liner off of the right field wall for a long single that moved Soriano over to third. With two outs, Cox called to the pen for Mike Remlinger to face Nick Johnson. Johnson hit a high bouncer to first base to end the game 3-1 Atlanta.

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